For my inaugural review here on Zeitgeeks’ Retro Geek, I chose to review the memorable, as well as epic, Final Fantasy IV. Originally released in the U.S. as Final Fantasy II for the Super Nintendo in 1991, Final Fantasy IV weaved an amazing tale of love, betrayal and redemption all on a 16 bit cartridge.
The story revolves around Cecil, a Dark Knight and Captain of the Kingdom of Baron’s Red Wings air force. Ordered to gain at all cost 4 powerful crystals around the world, Cecil questions his actions and is removed as Captain. Looking to set right the wrong he has done, Cecil travels the land searching for other kingdoms to help him on his quest. Although a bit cliché for modern tales, the story unfolds upon not only 2 different planets, but an underworld as well.
Besides the story, the characters in Final Fantasy IV all have their own unique backgrounds and complexities. From Kain, a Dark Dragoon whom is Cecil’s best friend and fiercest rival, to Rosa, a White Mage so in love with Cecil that she would traverse the harshest desert to be at his side. Of course, who could forget Tellah’s “You Spoony Bard!” The characters were predetermined so although there were no options to choose your own party, I feel that this went along well with the storyline.
The real driving force, in my opinion, is the music created by Nobuo Uematsu. There are so many things that could be said about Nobuo Uematsu today, from his sold out symphonies to engaging work on many video games. But in 1991, his name was just as obscure as Final Fantasy. With tranquil overworld music, mysterious cave harmonies, and to engaging boss battle melodies, Nobuo is at the top of his game. I have fond memories of my brother and me putting the controller down just to listen to the music.
Final Fantasy IV has shined its light upon many consoles, starting with the Super Famicon and SNES, to GBA, PS1, DS, and the Virtual Console. In April of 2011, Square-Enix is planning yet another re-release of Final Fantasy IV, entitled “Complete Collection” for the PSP. This package includes the original SNES version with a graphical overhaul, as well as the new Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, found previously on Nintendo’s Wii Ware, and a new gameplay feature bridging the two story lines. It’s hard to choose which version I prefer to play. The GBA and DS versions stand out for different reasons to me. The GBA because it is an excellent port of the original SNES and the DS because it is completely remade in 3D with an increased difficulty and new battle features.
In a time in my youth when video games were seen just as mindless children’s toys, Final Fantasy IV proved that games could be just as engaging as novels, plus adding an appreciation of symphonic harmonies to fans everywhere. Final Fantasy IV easily stands as my sentimental favorite video game for many reasons, and I couldn’t be happier choosing it as my first game to review. - Gabe Orta